Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007...12:48 am
I just watched Colorado’s improbable finish to clinch the Wild Card by beating San Diego in extra innings of a one-game playoff. Initially, I wasn’t going to write about October baseball just yet but the last week has just been too entertaining.
The Rockies won 14 of their last 15 games and my guess is that that’s the best late season run to clinch a playoff spot in the history of baseball. This final game was unbelievably dramatic. After a sloppily played game with numerous early inning homers both teams settled down with some timely relief pitching. San Diego went up a few runs in the top of the 13th and gave the ball to future Hall-Of-Famer and career saves leader Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman promptly was rocked with three straight extra base hits that was sparked by a Kaz Matsui double. I’m amazed how this scrub who was hands down the worst player in baseball has revived his career (and his life) and is actually a quality middle infielder. Finally, the game ended on a controversial sac fly as it looked like Matt Holliday never touched home plate. The Ump made a late call that suggested he was contemplating calling Holliday out.
I was disappointed to see the Padres lose. I adopted the Friars when I lived down in San Diego. I grew fond of Peavy, Khalil Greene and Hells Bells (the AC/DC song that plays when Hoffman enters the game) and enjoyed going to PetCo in it’s inaugural season. San Diego was within one strike of clinching on Saturday before Hoffman blew the lead. Last week they lost their hottest hitter, Milton Bradley, in one of the most bizarre injuries I’ve ever seen as he tore his ACL as his own manager wrestled him to the ground to prevent him from attacking the first base umpire. It must suck to be a diehard Pads fan. Actually, there is no such thing as a diehard sports fan in San Diego (unless you count surfing and horseshoes).
But you know what sucks? Being a Mets fan. Just ask my buddy Charlie’s who sums up the pain in this paragraph. The Mets blew a seven game lead with 17 to play. They lost eight of their last nine home games and lost seven straight to Philadelphia in September. The Sports Guys think they have redefined levels of losing. Their bullpen hemorrhaged like a New Orleans levee and Jose Reyes did his best Rey Ordonez hitting impersonation. Willie seemed helpless to reverse course and nobody in the dugout was able to shake the Metropolitans out of their stupor as they blew games to cellar dwellers Florida and Washington. Tom Glavine did a Rick Ankiel in one of the biggest games of his illustrious career and didn’t even seem upset about it afterwards. If I was a Mets fan I would passionately hate my team right now. Not only did they collapse, but they showed less heart than Roberto Duran in a title bout. Almost like they were on the take or maybe just wanted their fans to suffer.
Fortunately, my boys in the Bronx are back where they belong by making the post-season for the 13th straight season. Most people think Yankee fans are spoiled and we are. But I still remember the Yanks horrendous teams of the late eighties and my unwavering belief and grief in Chuck Cary, Melido Perez (Before the flying Mollina brothers there was the loco Perez hermanos), Roberto “don’t call me Bobby” Kelly and Donnie Baseball. This regular season was special in that I had to once again root every night! After a pathetic first half the Bombers turned it on behind the energy and success of homegrown prospects like Melky, Robbie Cano, Joba, Hughes and Shelley Duncan. A-Rod proved each and every night why he is the most talented player in the world. And I now have a man-crush on Joba to go along with Mike Hart and Marcus Hatten.
The Yanks have an excellent shot of winning their first World Series since 2000. There isn’t a team in baseball that has as much talent or as dangerous of a lineup. I realize this is because they also have the highest payroll. Yet, I’m nervous. I’m a huge Pettitte fan but Wang and him aren’t dominating pitchers. The starting pitching gets very suspect as Clemens and Mussina are showing their age. While Joba has been masterful, Mariano isn’t as sharp as he once was and the rest of the bullpen might as well take the 7 train to Shea. Kyle Farnsworth is Ryan Leaf if Leaf played baseball. While their lineup is the best in baseball it certainly is power driven and has the tendency to go limp against great starting pitching. Then there is the Angel’s and their manager Mike Scioscia. I’m thinking he might have done that sign-stealing Belichick video taping thing because he brilliantly out-manages the Yanks ever game.
The playoffs haven’t even started and I’m nervous as hell. There’s nothing as exciting and nerve-wrecking as October baseball. If tonight is any indication, you better start watching!